I enjoy laughing. I grew up watching re-run after re-run of "I Love Lucy". I saw these episodes over and over. They are still funny.
I am very thankful for the great gift of laughter. I can see Jesus laughing. Can’t you? For instance, he spoke about some who would strain a gnat out of their soup while they ended up with part of a camel’s leg in their mouths (Mt. 23:24). That is a funny picture. He spoke of attempting to get a speck out of someones eye while having a beam rammed into your eye socket (Mt. 7:3-5). Again, that is a funny picture.
"Bill" has helped me with this. He is a Professor of Finance at Baylor University. A highly gifted person who works hard. Yet, he laughs a lot. He loves to play jokes on people. (Nothing embarrassing or humiliating but playful). He has a wonderful sense of humor, often laughing at himself. I’ve heard him say on more than one occasion, "Let’s make it fun!"
Give me a person like that any day over the dour, grim, person who is highly sensitive and easily offended. Of course, I realize that there is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh.
I don’t want to laugh…
- …at people when they are experiencing failure. Some people seem to enjoy seeing others fail. In some perverse way, they enjoy seeing good people mess up.
- …at people when they might feel humiliated or highly embarrassed. One night, after a class I taught, I heard a man say something really demeaning to a woman in the class (basically humiliating her). I saw her cringe. For a moment she had the look of a small child who had just been shamed.
- …when people around me are brokenhearted and need for me to cry with them.
I enjoy laughing…
- …at myself when I lose my keys (again), say the wrong word in a sermon (again), or when I tell a story about something goofy that I have done (again).
- …with a group of people as a friend tells a hilarious story.
- …with a person who tells about something silly that he did and I know that it is safe to laugh at the story.
- …at cute and innocent things that children do.
There is so much sadness in this world. So much heartache. So much disappointment. In this kind of world, it is important that we look for moments that are light. These may just be gifts of God to help sweeten the day.
A friend of mine was a minister in West Texas. A man in his church had recently died. This was an older man, a farmer, who was being grieved by his wife of many years. He never wore a suit to church or a coat and tie of any kind. He simply wore his overalls.
On the night of the visitation at the funeral home, my friend went to express his support and care to the widow. (My friend and these people were good friends for many years.) He found the woman in a room with family members (the casket was at one end of the room). People were coming and going as they hugged the man’s wife and expressed their love. My friend stepped into the room and together with the widow, they walked over to the casket. My friend looked at the old gentleman, dressed in a suit and tie. He then remarked to the widow, "You know, he wouldn’t have been caught dead in a suit." My friend said that moments after those words left his mouth, it dawned on him what he had just said. For a moment, he froze, cringing with embarrassment. Finally, he looked up only to catch the eyes of this woman.
She then laughed! (Much to his relief!) He then laughed with her.